The Republic of Malaysia

Raja Petra Kamarudin

Many bloggers in Malaysia Today seem extremely perturbed by Malaysia’s rulers and would like them removed and Malaysia turned into a republic. What kind of republic do you think they would like Malaysia turned into? Take your pick! A republic similar to Pakistan or one similar to Indonesia (the two countries I have used as examples considering both these countries have majority Muslim populations that far exceed ours)?

Before we debate this, let us backtrack a bit first. Why do they want the monarchy abolished? Well, let us go through the various arguments that have been raised over the last seven months since Malaysia Today has been in existence.

One popular argument is that it is a waste of taxpayers’ money keeping the rulers on the throne.

Agreed! The ten monarchs (if we include the King) serve no administrative or executive purpose and paying their salaries is a total waste of money (they are only ceremonial heads of government). It is almost like paying the salaries of the more than 200 Members of Parliament who also serve no purpose other than sitting in Parliament and rubberstamping everything the Prime Minister and Umno wants.

No doubt, the cost of maintaining the ten monarchs is only a fraction of the cost of maintaining more than 200 Parliamentarians, but a cost is a cost and the quantum should not be the issue here. I mean, other than the direct cost of these more than 200 Members of Parliament, there are also their other perks, claims, travelling expenses, and so on, that come to many more times their salary.

Hey, will some bright spark out there volunteer information as to how much it costs the nation to keep the ten monarchs in office, who serve no purpose, compared to more than 200 Parliamentarians, who equally serve no purpose other than to rubberstamp whatever the Prime minister and Umno wants? I am sure all Malaysians would be very eager to know where their tax money is going to don’t you think so?

Then there are the hidden costs in keeping these more than 200 Members of Parliament in office. The hidden costs are substantial and it costs the taxpayer loads of money; billions. But let us take just one case — the recent extension of the NSE concession and the toll hike. Imagine how much it is going to cost Malaysians to drive along the PLUS Highway. And the concession extension and toll hike were approved by the more than 200 Parliamentarians. If we had no Parliamentarians then Malaysians would be spared this exorbitant cost — profits that would go to Umno, the owner of the company that owns the concession.

Yes, since cost is the reason for abolishing the monarchy, then also abolishing the Parliamentary system that Malaysia now has would multiply these savings many-fold.

The next argument for abolishing the monarchy is because the rulers abuse their authority.

Agreed! But Ministers too abuse their authority, as we all know. This is certainly no secret. And, if we had no Parliamentarians, then we would have no Ministers as well. Then both the monarchs and ministers, who would no longer be in office, would no longer be able to abuse their authority.

For that matter, many also scream that the police too abuse their authority and the high incidence of deaths under police custody has alarmed these people. So, just like what we are proposing for the Monarchs, Members of Parliament, and Ministers, the police force too needs to be abolished. Now no one can abuse their authority and Malaysia would be heaven on earth.

The third argument is that the monarchs serve no administrative or executive purpose and are of no use to the rakyat. They serve themselves, not the rakyat.

Agreed! And the same goes for the almost 800 Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen. They too earn a salary, enjoy all the perks and benefits, cost the nation a lot of money, but serve themselves and get rich instead of serving the Rakyat.

Yes, while we are in the mood for abolishing all that which costs money, let us not stop at the monarchy, which is a mere fraction of this cost, but let us go all the way and cut off everything in that category. At the same time, there will no longer be any abuse of position since there are no positions left.

And imagine the other benefits we get by abolishing the monarchy. Islam, which is the official religion of this country, comes under the rulers. No more rulers, then no more defenders of Islam. Simple!

Then, instead of having a religious department specifically for Islam, like what we now have, we will have a department of religious affairs, like in the Republic of Indonesia — which is not only for Islam but for all religions (and non-Muslims can also head the department, just like in Indonesia). This would be a sort of multi-faith religious department, which is what they have in the Republic of Indonesia.

This would indeed be a great reformation.

The next issue, which has been a bone of contention for many generations, is that of the status of Islam as the official religion of this country, Malay as the official language of Malaysia, and the preferential treatment accorded the Malays. This was actually put in place by the British Colonial masters before they granted us our independence. The wily Brits, they wanted to make sure that the Malays would continue being the masters of this land. How devious of them.

Unfortunately, though, this can only be changed with the unanimous consent of the rulers. Not even a simple majority will do, it must be unanimous. Once the monarchy is abolished, Islam can be removed as the official religion, Malay would no longer be the official language, and the special privileges of the Malays would disappear.

See what we can achieve by abolishing the monarchy? Many side benefits other than just saving money and making sure no one can abuse their authority.

And do you know what would be most interesting of all? Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) has just merged with Parti Keadilan Nasional to form Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). Polis Di Raja Malaysia (PDRM) would now become Polis Republic Malaysia (PRM) since we no longer have a monarchy and PRM the political party no longer exists. Then, if the Democratic Action Party (DAP) wishes to also merge with PKR, the new party could be called Parti Democratic Rakyat Malaysia (PDRM) since the police no longer use PDRM but PRM.

It all fits nicely don’t you think so? So many birds killed with just one stone — the abolishment of the monarchy.

The only problem to all this though, asking Umno to agree to abolish the Monarchy would have as much chance of success as getting Umno to drop the Ketuanan Melayu or dropping Islam as the official religion or Malay as the official language. So we, the voters, would need to know which political party would be bold enough to add ABOLISHING THE MONARCHY in its election manifesto so that the voters who would like to see the monarchy abolished can vote for it in the next election.

And these political parties must be open and honest about this. We do not want them to make this their hidden agenda, then spring a surprise on us only when they win the election. They must be honest like PAS that declares, before the election, it would implement an Islamic system of government if it ever commanded more than two-thirds majority in parliament. The fact that PAS contested only one-third of the Parliament seats and won less than half the seats contested — so it could never in a million years command more than two-thirds of the seats in Parliament — is not important. Or they must be honest like DAP that declares, now, before the elections, it is opposed to PAS’ Islamic State concept — though PAS could never win enough seats in Parliament to change Malaysia into an Islamic State — and that it would like to maintain Malaysia as a Secular State.

PAS and DAP are both honest and open though we all know what they are arguing about is something that would never happen anyway. What we want is the same demonstration of honesty and openness from the other political parties as well, whether from the ruling party or the opposition. Let the voters know, now, what your plans are so that the voters can decide before the election who they should vote for.

So, who will it be? Which political party will say, now, they will abolish the monarchy and turn Malaysia into a republic? Then let those republicans cast their vote for this party come the next general election.

Speak now, or forever hold your tongue.